LaVerna Munch Woodard Credit: Photo provided

LaVerna Munch Woodard, loving mother of 3, passed away peacefully on Sunday, May 7, 2023 at Oak Hill Manor in Ithaca, New York. She was 98 years old. Her body was donated to Upstate Medical Center in Syracuse, New York as an anatomical gift.

Her family will host a memorial service, at 2 p.m. on Sunday, September 3, 2023 at 2233 Triphammer Road in Ithaca, New York. Please bring a dish of your favorite food to share and we will enjoy a ‘Pot-Luck’ Fellowship Meal.

LaVerna was born January 13, 1925 to Peter Alfred Munch and Grace Amelia Barnum Munch (a distant relative of PT Barnum) in Caroline Center, New York. She was a middle child of 6 and grew up as a strong, hard-working farm girl in Tompkins County, in the Southern Tier of New York.  She picked a lot of berries: strawberries, raspberries, and blueberries; quite often 50 quarts in one day. She picked up from the freshly plowed field, 100 bushels of potatoes, in one day. A neighbor farmer challenged her that if she could catch a piglet, she could keep it. She got pretty muddy!

She graduated high school from Newark Valley in 1941 and because of the war went to New York City for their class trip; whereas previous classes got to go to Washington, DC. Then, in 1943, she went to Rochester Business Institute. When she returned home, she worked at the City Chamberlain office but down the street in the same block was the Ice Cream Center where she would go at noon and after work, to make the best milkshakes in town for customers. At that time, milkshakes only cost $.25-$.35. So she was continuing to be a hard worker by having a day job and a night job. Over the years, she had various jobs: working at the DMV, selling Avon, waitressing. One of her favorites was working with her longtime friend, Zelda, at the Country Club, where she (known as ‘Munchie’) waitressed, and sometimes they made desserts.

LaVerna (known to her friends and family as ‘Vernie’) was a vibrant and energetic person. Mostly we remember her for her thoughtfulness and helpfulness to others: running errands, giving perms, sharing food, helping paint, decorate, or clean house (even cleaning windows) for older relatives and friends. She was also always very frugal, on the lookout for ‘Sales’ and ‘Deals.’ She would be the consumer that drove across town to buy a case of paper towels for a dime less (of course, at that time,  gas prices were about $.30/gal.). She enjoyed dancing, playing cards, crafts, gardening, picking and gathering fresh in-season fruits and berries, and especially baking pies and cakes.

She loved to dance, and at 84 she danced at her granddaughter’s wedding and even in her last years when she no longer could walk, we could see her feet tapping and dancing to the beat of the music.

She had a love of flowers: growing, arranging and taking them to shut-ins. She also loved to take us fruit or berry picking and showed us how to find the sweetest berries and then we would make some desserts: fresh fruit or berry pie or homemade biscuits with berry toppings.

LaVerna was a constant baker, always mixing up muffins, cake batter, frosting, drop biscuits, cookie dough, pie filling, and dough for the crust. There were days with cookies in the oven, a cake on the cooling rack, and dough being rolled for a pie pan, to receive berries, peaches, or apples for a homemade pie. She enjoyed baking and sharing her delicious confections with others. She made and decorated wedding cakes, anniversary cakes and numerous birthday cakes and cookies and especially her famous cinnamon sweet rolls and peanut brittle. She was well known for her deliciously moist angel food cakes, one of which once sold for $50 at a church fundraiser auction.

LaVerna was preceded in death by her husband, Wilbur Dwight Woodard of Dryden, New York, whom she married in 1980 and then lived in Dryden for 36 years until she fell and then entered the nursing home in 2016. However, most of her life she lived in Ithaca, New York. She is survived by a brother, Erwin Peter Munch of Vestal, New York; her children, Trudy, Terry, and David; 7 grandchildren and 19 great-grandchildren and many nieces and nephews. Her memory lives on in the hearts of those who loved her.

Her daughter Trudy (Wayne) Johnson of Jeffersonton, VA have 2 children: Timothy (Kristie) Johnson of Charlottesville, VA (Charity, Justice, Hope and Noah); and Jeanette (Philip III) Rigby of Woodbridge, VA (Lynn and Sara Leeanne).

Her son Terry (Melinda) Daniels of Warren, IN have 5 children:  Charis (Blaine) Hitzfield of Roanoke, IN (Bryton, Tyton, Charleston, Lillyana, Juliana and Houston); Sarah (Joshua) Pfuelb of Attica, NY (Winter, Jessa, Autumn, Isaac and baby sister coming); Andrew (Rachael) Daniels of San Antonio, TX;  Rebecca (Caleb) McAfee of Warren, IN;  Samuel (Kaitlin) Daniels of Columbia City, IN (Blaire and Jackson).

Her son David Church and his girlfriend of many years, Sheila Abbey of Dryden, NY.

We are very thankful to God for the years He gave us with her. And we are very thankful for the many dear friends she made during her stay on earth, and the love and joy and blessing that they have brought to all of our lives. We are forever grateful to the Bob Carlisle family for the loving care and attention that they have given to our mother during her last years on earth. 

The most important message LaVerna would have for us, is that the ONLY way to be in Heaven is to put your trust in Jesus Christ!  If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you shall be saved!  For there is no other Name under Heaven, given among men, by which we must be saved!

We invite you to attend the Memorial Service on September 3, 2023 at 2 p.m. if you can, or contact us if you cannot.

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